Friday, November 7, 2014

Traveling with Small Children

A friend of mine was flying down to San Francisco to run the Nike Half Marathon.  She asked me for some tips for flying with her almost one year old.  After typing up my tips and sending them to her, I realized that these should be shared with everyone, because at some point in our life, we will find ourselves with an infant on our lap riding a silver tube through the air.

These tips are listed only in the order I thought them up, so my apologies if anything seems out of order to you.

1. A car seat won't be counted against you in the baggage department, so it's good to bring it and check it with your luggage. You may plan to take public transportation everywhere, but how will you be getting to your final destination from the airport? If by something on wheels that isn't a city bus, you'll need a car seat. Plus, you never know what kind of plans will crop up and you may need one. Car seats are too expensive to have to purchase once you're there.

2. Take a stroller with you all the way to the gate, but don't put your kid in it. Put the kid in a child carrier and throw your carry on bags on the stroller. It is much easier and less painful to get through the airport that way. The stroller can be gate checked and will be waiting for you when you deboard.

3. If you have assigned seats, wait until the last possible moment to board the plane. This pre-boarding for families with small children is a joke. You don't want to spend any more time on the airplane than you really need to. Also, when the plane lands, wait until everyone else has deboarded before getting your stuff. It will be less stressful, and all of your luggage will have already been pulled off the baggage claim and waiting for you when you get there.

4. Buy a ridiculous amount of snacks, and mostly food that you wouldn't normally feed your child because it's too this or too that, but that you know your kid will love and will probably go insane over. Do the same with toys. In fact, hide some of his or her favorite toys right now so that they are completely forgotten, and pack those. Do not let your child know that you have them, or that they exist, even when you get on the plane. Wait until the last possible second, when you are pretty sure that if you don't do something right this moment, your kid will start losing their mind and all the passengers on the airplane will hate you. That's when you pull one thing out. ONE. THING. Let it entertain your child until you get to the same nearly crazy point, and then pull out another thing, but just one. The idea is that you will get through the flight without going through your stash, because you have another flight home, and if your kid knows what you have in your bag, you'll be up the proverbial creek.

5. Get an aisle seat. (This is especially advantageous on Southwest Flights that are not overbooked).

6. Practice changing a diaper on a thimble, because most airplanes don't have changing tables, and if they do, they are the size of a lunch tray. I did diaper changes on the toilet seat.

7. If you are still nursing, nurse on take-off and landing. If people glare at you, stare them down.  It's intimidating to maintain eye contact with a nursing mother. If they complain, tell them it's better than blood curdling screams, and at least your bosoms are silky smooth. If your kiddo takes a bottle and/or you're uncomfortable nursing with a stranger's elbow in your ribs, give him or her a bottle at take-off and landing. Once, I was lucky to sit next to a young man who had a Mormon upbringing, with a mother who nursed all 7 of them, so when I told him I was going to have to nurse my child, he told me that it not only was OK, he asked if there was anything he could do to help. THAT was unexpected. And then my son proceeded to kick him the entire time he nursed.

8. Ask for extra snacks when they come around, and for your beverages to stay in their original containers, unopened. You may end up wearing them otherwise.

9. I just remembered the whole TSA craziness. You can bring anything you want as far as food goes. They will try to tell you that your applesauce cup is above the 2oz limit, but they can't stop you from bringing it. If it is food for your child, you can bring it. Whatever it is. Plan extra time for the TSA because you will have to claim everything when your time comes, and they will have to swab everything and attempt to shame you for not simply purchasing the overpriced "food for purchase" on board, and cause you to worry that you're going to miss your flight, but trust me on this one. Here is the information from the TSA website. I brought 5 ziplock containers of bone broth through once because "my child has terrible allergies and is on a special diet" and after three minutes of shaming, they let me go. Also, you can't wear your baby through the machine, nor can you push baby in the stroller. But you likely won't have to do the body scan thing because you'll have him or her in your arms.

What are some of your tricks to survive an airplane ride with small children?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Re-Commitment Time

This Saturday marks the half-way point of the Team Challenge training for the half marathon in Las Vegas.  I joined the team about a month after everyone else, so this isn't my true halfway point.

Still, this is the weekend where we decide, are we in or are we out?  Have we been able to raise enough funds that looking toward what we have left to raise and the amount of time we have to do so, do we think it's possible?  Do we have what it takes?

Part of Re-commitment is handing over your credit card and saying "I'll cover what isn't" when fundraising time is over.

As I ask myself these questions, I wonder why there is even a question.

When I joined Team Challenge, it wasn't because I needed to find a cause to support.  It wasn't because I wanted a trip to Vegas.  It wasn't even for the awesome running coach I don't have to pay for.

I joined Team Challenge because I have seen first-hand how people with IBD suffer.  The pain and physical discomfort are just the tip of the iceberg.  And because it's a digestive issue, it's often too embarrassing to talk about.  I have mostly kept the nitty gritty to myself, for Paul's sake.  But it's time to re-commit, and it's time to think about why I chose to take on this challenge and why I would continue on.

1.  The face he gives me when I'm on the toilet and he needs to use it.  Nobody should ever have to contemplate having to ask their spouse to vacate the toilet or shit their pantsNobody.

2.  The number of conversations we've had about poop that have nothing to do with my teaching, thru-hiking, or our children.

3.  The medicines and their weird side effects - vision problems, migraines, diarrhea (How do you know you're getting better?  Because it's not bloody?).

4.  The various diets and food modifications we have made (dairy free, gluten free, Paleo, SCD, Low-FOD Map, etc.) that have become more and more restrictive.

5.  Going out to a restaurant with the family and hearing him say "Nothing for me," because there really is nothing he can order off the menu.

6.  Being bombarded with suggestions by well-meaning friends who think it's as easy as [insert random, relatively unhelpful but well-meaning suggestion here].  If only it was so simple.

7. The increased risk for colon cancer.

8.  Knowing there is a genetic component, and not wanting this for my precious babies.

So, will I re-commit?  Will I hand over my credit card and say I'll cover what isn't when the deadline rolls around? Is it worth that much to me?

It's worth that much, and so much more, which is why I already have.

My question now is.... Will you?

Join me in fighting for this cause, honoring Paul and the 1.4 million others with this disease.  And if I can't convince you, take a look at these adorable little kids and try to tell them no.

Help our daddy beat UC!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Oregon Marathon

When I started out on the Nike trail last January, I didn't think I would ever run more than a mile.  My first 5k was a big deal for me, and running a 15k a year later was insane.  I never ever ever thought I would run a half marathon.  In fact, even after signing up for the half marathon, I still was in disbelief.  Driving to the start line, I felt completely unprepared.  Yes, I ran 13 miles two weeks before-hand, but in those two weeks since running 13 miles, school had started for the kids and my "taper" to the race seemed more like a halt.  In the week leading up to my race, I ran a total of three miles.  That is hardly the distance you want to cover when you have to run 13.1 at the end of the week.

But there I was, at 6am, in a van with 5 other women, heading to Mt. Angel, Oregon to run my very first half marathon.  I was hoping to finish in 2 1/2 hours.  I figured I would finish in about 2:45.  It was a beautiful day for a run, and an awesome place to run.  The Oktoberfest was in full swing (at least, it would be by the time I finished), and the weather was unseasonably warm and dry for a mid-September weekend.  

When I signed up for the race, I signed up with Moms Run This Town, a nationwide, free running group.  Because we ended up having the biggest team registered, we won VIP status.  What this included was preferential parking, dedicated toilets, and a special VIP tent after the race, with food, juice and iced towels just for us.  Our bibs had VIP emblazoned on them, which made me feel pretty cool and elite, especially since I was probably going to finish after a few marathoners.

Our parking spot was awesome.  We didn't have to walk far to the start line or the bag check (Oh yeah, our bags were to be delivered to the VIP tent.  The peasants had to go ask for theirs at the finish line bag check).  I couldn't find a VIP toilet, though.  I was told that the VIP toilet would be at the finish line. 

I forgot to pack a banana to eat before the race.  I always eat a banana before I go for a long run.  I have no idea why I eat a banana, but it certainly seems to keep me going, so I have no need to change this routine.  I didn't think much about the fact that I had forgotten my banana, because every other race I have ever run has bananas at the starting line.

This one did not.

Yes, I had no banana.

The "900" Corral
Not only that, but I had to poop, and I don't particularly like port-a-potties.  I hopped on a line and waited for a while before I realized that the line of toilets in front of me were all locked.  Except for one.  No wonder there weren't so many people in this line and it wasn't moving quickly.  As I calculated the wait time for the other row of toilets, someone came up and unlocked the rest of the ones in front of me.  I was able to poop in a virgin toilet.  It was amazing.  I forgot to make sure my door was fully locked, and an unassuming runner opened up my door as I was in the middle of a grunt.  I think he was more embarrassed than I was.

Awesome Mother Runners!
A concept in racing that was new to me with this race is that of "corrals."  I had never heard this term before.  What they do is assign your bib number based on your estimated finish time.  You find people who have bib numbers near you, and hang out together at the starting line.  That way, when the race starts, all the people who expect to run the race in an hour and change won't mow down those who will do it in three times the time.

The half marathoners were led to the start-line of the half marathon, about 1/4 mile away.  We lined up on both sides of the street, creating a runner tunnel for the marathoners to run through.  We took photos of ourselves, photos of others, and then photos of the marathoners as they came through.  Then it was our turn.

Crazy Marathoners
 I wore my GoPro, using a "Chesty" mount (yes I kind of bought it because of the name) and set it up to take a photo every second.  I figured I could make a fun little time lapse movie.  I'm still trying to figure out how to make it, so you'll have to be patient with me because I may not get that posted for a while.  In the mean time, here are some photos of the course that were taken by the GoPro.

I was impressed with how well I did for the first half of the race.  I stayed in the 11mm range, even taking a pee break at mile 4.  I felt strong, fast, and very much like I could run all day like this.  I couldn't believe how well I was doing when I hit the 10k mark.  I was on target to finish well before the 2:30 goal, and because my playlist magically alphabetized itself, I was in the middle of a Tom Petty "R" set (who knew he had so many songs that begin with R?). 

And then I hit the wall.  At least, I think that's what I hit.  It's something runners say, and since I have a half marathon under my belt, I guess I can safely say that I'm a runner.  Anyway, I ran mile nine with my eyes closed.  Not all of it.  I opened my eyes every now and again to make sure I was still on course and not about to run into someone.  I wracked my brain, trying to figure out why I was feeling so sluggish, and then I remembered.  No banana. 

At 9.3 miles, because I had to at least run as far as my longest race before walking, I walked.  It was only until the end of the song, which may or may not have been Sunday, Bloody Sunday.  I didn't feel bad that I was walking.  Other people were walking.  Some of them had recently passed me.  I planned on passing them back when I was ready to run again. 

Janet and Erin
And I did run again, because I knew that there would be electrolyte drinks at mile 10.  I ran to the aid station and stopped to grab a cup of the orange liquid.  I braced myself, expecting something sweet and syrupy like gatorade.  I was so pleasantly surprised that it tasted more like salt water.  A almost turned back to get a second drink.

Even with the electrolyte drink, my body was pretty much done.  I ran some and walked some for the next mile.  I ran through a covered bridge at some point, and thought that was cool, but mostly, I was calculating how many more miles I had to run, and how long I could walk and keep my pace above 11:30. 

I lost feeling in the toes of my right foot and had tremendous pain in the ball of that foot every time my foot hit the pavement.  I thought that maybe I would be walking through that finish line.  I wondered how long it would take for Janet to catch up, and if she would drag me across.  I considered hanging around for the crew pushing Andie, and hoping in her chair for the last little bit.  All of these options sounded great in my head.

And then, like the happy, motivating angel that she is, Mariah showed up.  Mariah is one of the leaders of my chapter of Moms Run This Town.  She's amazing, super fast, and always so up-beat.  We both ran in the Portland Trail Series this summer, and a couple times she ran me in to the finish line.  It was a giant ego boost to keep up with someone who can sustain a sub 8 minute pace for more than three minutes.
Mariah offers encouragement

"You have a mile and a half to go!" she shouted to me.  I went into self-defense mode and told her about my foot pain - my excuse for being caught walking, and walking slowly.  We gave high fives, she told me I could do it, and since Mariah said so, I started running again.

When I hit the aid station at mile twelve, I couldn't feel my toes and I sucked down the last bit of water in my camelbak.  If I wanted to hydrate, I had to make it to the finish line.

The course made its way back into town.  Little kids stood on the street corners holding signs and cheering us on.  I forgot about my toes, the mileage and my thirst.  I was happy again, and I had less than a mile to the finish line.

As I came up to the high school, I got emotional.  I was on the verge of finishing my very first half marathon.  13.1 miles.  I've hiked this distance many times, but running the distance is so very different.  I suddenly had difficulty breathing.  I was about to step onto the track, not even a full lap left to go, and I couldn't suck in a full lung of air.  'What the hell is wrong with me?' I thought.  I can't pass out here, this is my first half marathon. 

And then the a-ha moment.  This is my first half marathon.  Holy Fucking Shit.  I'm about to finish my first half marathon.  No wonder I can't breathe.  I'm so fucking emotional.

A sight for sore eyes... and feet!
I immediately put the thought out of my head and started thinking about whether or not I could hold my pee (I hadn't gone since mile 8) as I crossed the finish line.  I saw the photographer and pulled myself together for some cool finishing shots, and then I ran as hard and fast as I could to the finish line.  I almost lost it when I heard my name (it's nice that they have that service for these long races), and nearly collapsed when they put the giant medal around my neck.  OMG, that thing weighs about as much as my three year old.  And the best news, I finished in 2:29:04!  56 seconds faster than my goal!
I make it look fun

I didn't see Paul and the kids, so I called.  They weren't at the stadium yet.  They ran out of gas.  My happiness deflated as I had to immediately go into problem solving mode.  But first, I had to go into blame mode and be irritated with my husband for not noticing that the car was on E when he got into it.

I didn't get to fully enjoy the VIP tent because I was no longer in the race.  I was too busy thinking about my husband and kids, stranded on the side of the road, waiting for the tow truck guy or Janet's husband (whoever got there first) to bring him gas.  It took me a while to find my bag, since all the VIP bags were placed haphazardly in the tent.  A woman offered me a towel.  It was warm and dry.  People kept stealing chairs out of our tent.  I wanted to yell "Hey Bitches, we're VIP!  Get your own chairs!"  but I was moping.

I didn't partake in the cold showers like I thought I would.  I got on a bus and went back to the starting area at Oktoberfest.  I found a parking attendant at the lot where we parked to have him guide Paul in.  It was the staff parking area.  I asked him if we could still park in the lot, since it's where the runners parked this morning.

"Sure, as long as he has a yellow tag on his dashboard."

I showed him my bib and said "Well, I'm VIP, so does that work?" 

"I guess so," he replied.

So, while my family wasn't at the finish line with hugs, high fives and flowers, we at least got sweet parking at Oktoberfest.  I didn't last long, though.  After a brat and kraut, I faded fast.  At least we got to watch the glockenspiel (which E called "boring").  The kids ate corn dogs on sticks and we shared a slice of marionberry pie on our walk to the car.

So there it is.  I finished my first half marathon.  And 60 days from now, I'll be running my second.  In Las Vegas.  I won't have the husband and kids to meet me (or to run out of gas on their way to meet me), but I will have my team. 

I've raised $135 so far.  It's a very small amount when looking at what I have left to raise, but I did some calculations, and if I can raise $56/day, I can meet my goal.  I need your help with that.  Please, donate what you can.  Help me get to Vegas!  Donate today!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cramming the Weekend

This past week was the first week back to school for the kids.  Tuesday was E's first day (and mine) and Wednesday was L's.  Wednesday night we had swim lessons, Thursday evening an ice cream social at E's school, and Friday I had to get up for PT before work (more on that another day, but one thing I have discovered is there is nothing therapeutic about Physical Therapy).

You would think that for such a busy week we'd take it slow for the weekend.  Not when PCT Days is happening in Cascade Locks!  Not only that, I had my first group training run AND a bowling fundraiser to attend.  How was I going to cram it all in?  It seemed impossible, but I was determined.

Saturday morning, I got up and got myself ready to drive down to Road Runner Sports in NW Portland.  I had no idea where I was going, nor did I know what to expect.  I pulled in, walked in the store and saw my coach talking to a parent of a former student.  What the what?!?!?!  I couldn't believe it.  She joined our group run as a guest, and we spent the first two miles catching up and talking about how school is going for her son.  It was nice to have something to do other than listen to music and calculate how much farther I had left to go.  She turned around at the 2 mile mark to make it a four mile run, while I continued a little longer for a 5 mile run.

I didn't turn my music on, so I was alone with my thoughts:

Wow, over two miles and I don't feel the need to wet myself.
I didn't know the Dragon Boat races were this weekend.  I wonder if we can come here Sunday afternoon.
There's one of my teammates coming back.  I hope that means the turn around spot is coming up soon.
There's my coach.  She didn't see me and I put extra energy into smiling.  I hope I don't run out of energy now.
That guy on the bike is an ass.  It's people like him that makes people hate cyclists.  I think I hate him.
Hmm... was it this bridge coming up that has our water station, or the next one?
I don't remember running by Saturday Market on the way down here.  Am I lost? 
Lots of smiles before our run
Oh wait, I do remember running by Saturday Market.
Are those people really thinking they can drag their bikes down those stairs?  Should I tell them there's another way around?  Too late, I'm already past.
I wonder where M is now.  Should I have turned around when she did?  I'm supposed to run 6 miles today.  Should I run more later today or tomorrow? 
Hung Far Low.  Are you kidding me?  How long have I lived in Portland and I have never seen that sign?
Or maybe I have seen that sign and I just don't remember.  How could I not remember?  Am I really getting that old?

And so it went like this until my coach caught up on her bike and we talked and talked until I completely ran out of breath.  And I walked a little bit, which is strange for me because I ran 13 miles not too long ago and didn't walk one step.  But whatever, my pace was 10:36, even with the walking, so I guess I can't complain.

I like my coach, Kimberly Graime.  She feels really familiar to me, and reminds me a lot of my friend Beth.  Maybe her familiarity is what makes me like her.  Or maybe it's the fact that she told me to hold my arms close in to my chest when I run uphill, and it really did make the hill easier.  Either way, I like her, which is very important when training for a half marathon.

Somebody was not too pleased to meet Smokey.
I got home later than I expected, which means we left town later than we expected, but when we arrived at PCT Days, there was a great tent spot waiting for us.  We got to hang out for the night with hiker trash.  The kids became BFF's with another hiker trash kid, and we enjoyed trail magic and merriment, even when Nalgene bottles were raining down on us.

In the morning, we hung around at the ALDHA-West (American Long Distance Hiker's Association) thru-hiker breakfast, watching Freefall flip pancakes and AllGood make coffee.  The kids played, we talked and reminisced, and life slowed down for a few beautiful moments.

She makes bowling in a dress look easy
It was tough to pack up, as any time we're near trail folks, we just want to stay and hang out and do trail folk sort of stuff.  Alas, I had a fundraiser to get to - my first one for Team Challenge.  A bowl-a-thon at Grand Central Bowl.

He has amazing form.  No speed, but amazing form.
I brought the kids in with me while Paul went in search of food since he didn't have breakfast and was ready to eat his own arm.  I met more members of our bigger team, people who are doing walks, other runs, and alumni who have already done or or more Team Challenge runs.  Everyone thought E and L were adorable, which is good, since L was running around like a fool and crawling all over the couches like a monkey.  While I don't know how much we collected altogether, I think it was a successful fundraiser.  I didn't take a picture of the final score for our game because it's embarrassing for me, but I beat my children at least.

Can't even slow down for a picture.
We also were lucky enough to win some prizes in the raffle.  I kind of splurged and bought 20 tickets.  But come on.  It benefits the CCFA, so I kind of had to buy the tickets, right?  I won a cool reusable cup with lid and straw (which E has already decided to claim as her own), and a family pack to bowling night in Hillsboro. 

I typically don't plan so many events in one weekend.  I usually pick one big event and ignore the rest.  For this weekend, hiker trash would have trumped everything else.  But there I was, staring at my training plan, fundraising goals and time left to do it and realized that I needed to make the commitment.  I needed to figure out how to get everything to fit into this super-compact weekend.  I made the running and the fundraising a priority, and I made it to those two events.  I am committed to Team Challenge and the CCFA.  I am committed to Paul, and finding a cure and better life with UC.  I am committed to running and training for this half marathon.  I can do it!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Team Challenge

When I began my running career, I never considered the fact that I would ever train for a half marathon.  But here I am, training for one.  Last week, I ran 13 miles to prove to myself that I can run 13 miles.  I was impressed by how well I did.  I thought my legs might fall off and we had to cancel our plans to go to Sunday Parkways, but I did it.  I ran 13 miles.  And, because I had been thinking about it for a long time, I finally decided to make the commitment to join Team Challenge to run another half marathon in November.

What is Team Challenge?  Team Challenge is the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America’s endurance training and fundraising program. ThroughTeam Challenge, I’ll help find cures for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, two painful, seldom-discussed and debilitating digestive diseases. With the Half Marathon and Triathlon Training Programs, I'll train for a rewarding and exciting endurance event while raising vital funds for research into these diseases. These dollars will help make new treatments possible and fuel the search for cures.

This cause is very close to my heart.  Paul was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis six years ago, not long after we started our family.  It has been a hard road, with many more downs than ups.  Until he was diagnosed, we had never heard of this disease.  Since his diagnosis, we have learned that others have this, and other Inflammatory Bowel Diseases that are related.  While it's quite painful and sometimes debilitating, people rarely speak about it.

Through Team Challenge, I will be running the Las Vegas Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon.  My fundraising goal is $3500.  I hope to surpass that goal, and I hope that you will help.  You can read more about our family's story on my fundraising page, like my Facebook page, and follow my blog posts on my training and fundraising here.  I look forward to sharing this experience with you all!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Tips for Successful Road Trips with Children

This past week, I took the kids on a road trip to visit my grandmother down in Merced, CA.  I'll write more about our adventure later.  What I wanted to write down right now was a list of things I learned during this trip that may help you have a successful road trip with your own children.

1.  When planning your final destination, and the time you expect to reach said destination, add about five hours. 
This happened to us on our last day, the home stretch.  I told my husband we should be home for dinner.  When we were at our last stop before home (which was dinner time), I called him to let him know we wouldn't make it.  We stopped at a Subway to get dinner for the car, which added another 30 minutes.  Then we hit construction, another 30 minutes.  Once we were out of the construction, and five miles from the highway that would lead home and away from the coast, both kids had to poop.  That added another 45 minutes to our trip, and we didn't get home until after 10pm.

2.  When you see a rest stop sign, don't ask your children if they need to go potty, just pull in to the rest stop. 
As Murphy's Law would have it, every time I saw a sign for a rest stop coming up, I would ask the kids if they had to go.  Naturally, they would say no.  As soon as we passed the rest area off-ramp, one of them would begin crying that they needed to pee.

3.  If you are the solo adult for the trip, keep the cooler with food in the passenger seat.  When the children start complaining of hunger, reach in and toss back some food like they're caged lions. 
Because, on a road trip, that really is what they are.  My favorite go-tos are Lara Bars, trail mix, salami and fruit.

4.  Always anticipate where you may need to pull over to the side of the road for an emergency bathroom break.  
Because even if you heed #2, you will still need to do this.

5.  While you may plan 10 activities to do before your final destination, be OK with the fact that you may only get to do about 3.  
Everything takes longer with children involved.  Pick your three "must-see" activities, and all the others will be bonus.

6.  The television in the motel room will keep your children occupied long enough to get the luggage out of the car.  
This is especially helpful if you are the solo parent on the road trip.  We don't have a TV at home, so the novelty of it, even though it was CNN, was enough to keep my kids from running out onto the balcony, climbing over the rail and dropping three stories below.

7.  Sometimes the kids sleep better in their sleeping bags from home than on unfamiliar hotel room beds. 
My son had a hard time getting settled in one of the hotel rooms.  He asked for his sleeping bag.  He tried to sleep in it on the bed, but eventually climbed out, pulled his bag to the floor, and slept a good 10 hours.

8.  A dinner of sandwiches at a local park sometimes makes a hard day easy again.  
Rather than going to a diner or grabbing burgers for the car, we found a park, made some PBJ's and played for a while.  It made the last three hours of driving bearable because the children were happy again.

9. An old digital camera will keep a child happy and noticing the amazing scenery you're driving through.  
I gave E my old digital camera last fall.  She loves it, and she spent quite a lot of time taking pictures from the car.  I'd point out things, like Mt. Shasta, and she'd say, "Oooh, that's beautiful.  I'm going to take a picture."

10.  Even in Spanish, the Frozen soundtrack gets old.  Make sure you have a variety of music that everyone can agree on. 
Since they go to Spanish Immersion school, I bought them the Frozen soundtrack in Spanish.  I didn't think it could get to me like the English version, since I wouldn't know the words.  It was worse, because I don't know the words.  Now I have "Libre Soy, Libre Soy, la la la la la la la....." stuck in my head.

I will be keeping all of these tips in mind when we take our second trip of the summer in August.  We're heading to Glacier National Park.  This time, we'll be taking Daddy.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Promises to Keep

In December of 2012, there was a shooting in a local mall and another in an elementary school in Connecticut.  During that time, we listened to NPR a lot.  Perhaps we listened to it a little too much.  My daughter, E, suddenly became obsessed with death, shooting and guns, and began to ask a lot of questions - questions I wasn't quite ready to answer, but because we had exposed her, we had to answer.

We talked a lot about choices people make, sometimes they are not friendly, and they cause a lot of people to get hurt.  We talked about death, and what it means to be dead.  She had some experience with it, since both our cats died in the years after she was born, but it was a little hard for her since she didn't quite remember the cats.  Sure, she saw pictures of them, and pictures of herself as a baby with them, so she knew they had existed, but she didn't quite get the feeling of loss, when something (or someone) you love so much is suddenly gone, and you will never get to see, touch or speak to them again.  She just didn't understand that kind of devastation.

And then one day, out of the blue, she turned to me and said "Mommy, I don't want you to ever get dead!" 

I grabbed her and held on to her as tightly as she held on to me.  She was crying and shaking, and I felt myself doing the same.

"I promise," I said, not knowing exactly how I could keep such a promise, "that I will do everything in my power to keep myself from getting dead."

We held each other a little longer.  I kissed her and stroked her hair.  I inhaled deeply as I sniffed the last little strands of innocence passing away.  My daughter finally figured it out, and realized that I could die.  That I could no longer be there to hold her, pat her back to go to sleep, take the spiders out of the house, cut her meat, or read her Charlotte's Web at bedtime, one chapter at a time.  That was heartbreaking.

In January, I started to make good on my promise.  I decided that I would take a walk on the berm trail around the Nike campus on my lunch breaks.  After all, it's right next door.   I had no idea how long the trail was, nor did I know if it was even legal to walk around it, but that is what I was planning on doing.

It was a sunny day, and unseasonably warm for January.  Come to think of it, it was unseasonably sunny for the Pacific Northwest.  It felt good.  I felt good.  I was beginning my journey to not get dead for my daughter.  I was strong and smart and capable.  As I stepped onto the trail, something came over me.  I can't describe it, nor do I know where it came from.  But what I did was a complete surprise.  What I did, was run.

I am was not a runner.  I ran cross country in high school so I wouldn't get fat, but I was the slowest person on the team.  My coach would always yell at me, telling me to "stop having conversations with the wind!"  I attempted running one day in college, and gave up immediately.  When I moved out to Portland, I tried the couch to 5k program.  I lasted a week.  I didn't like the way my body felt when I ran.  Everything hurt - my joints, my lungs, my feet, my hair - it sucked.

But there I was, running on the Nike trail, and I kind of enjoyed it.  I remembered the last time I ran, and how much I hurt.  My joints didn't seem to hurt the way they did before.  My lungs didn't feel like little knives were stabbing them from the inside.  My feet were happy.  What was this crazy dimension that I had just walked into?  Does Nike pump chemicals into the air so that anyone on campus breathing it in suddenly enjoys hard, physical work?  That had to be it.

I didn't run far, and I didn't run fast.  But I ran.  I ran until the song on my iPod was finished.  Then I walked.  When the next song came on, I decided to run again.  I continued this run/walk combo until I found my way back to the start of the loop trail.  I hadn't planned on it, but that day was the beginning of my journey to be a runner.

I returned to the trail two days later, and two days after that.  In the next few weeks, I was there every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I was soon able to run for two songs without stopping to walk.  Then three, and four, and then I was running the entire time.  I couldn't believe it!

I told my friends, my husband and my doctor about this new activity I had taken up.  P was pretty sure the reason I didn't find it painful this time around is because I now have the experience of childbirth, which is the gold standard of comparison to all pain.  My doctor encouraged me to sign up for the Shamrock Run.  It was a 5k - 3.1 miles.  The Nike Berm trail is 1.97 miles.  I just had to run one more mile for the race.  No problem.

The Shamrock Run was a blast.  I wanted to finish in 35 minutes, give or take, and I did.  I felt strong.  I felt accomplished.  I felt that I was not getting dead.  I was keeping my promise.

I found myself signing up for more races, and bettering my time with each one.  My children and husband were always there, my biggest fans, cheering me on.

I signed up for a race on Mother's Day, called Run Like a Mother, which is what I did.  I also wet my pants as soon as I crossed the finish line, in true motherly style.  I packed a change of clothes because I knew that would happen.

I began training for my first 10k, because I felt that it was time to move forward.  I was feeling strong, and I was certain that if I could run 3.1 miles, I could run 6.2.  I was dedicated to my training until my father passed away and I didn't have any desire to run for a while.  I also didn't have any desire to finish reading the Run Like a Mother book I had checked out from the library and hadn't put down for the two days prior to getting the news.  I had three chapters left.  I still have no desire to read it.

My father wasn't the healthiest person.  He was overweight and had heart issues which are what eventually ended his life.  It was sudden and unexpected.  It was preventable.  A few years ago, he lost a lot of weight and was able to get off some of his medication, but lately, he seemed to have put on some weight, and had some issues that he didn't really go into detail about, but they were his reason for not coming down for L's birthday party that spring.

At the Tulip Festival for L's 1st birthday 2012
My dad and I didn't have the best relationship for almost half my life.  I was so mad when he died because I felt that I had lost the best years I would have with him.  I felt robbed, and I was angry at him for not taking better care of himself.  I'm slowly getting through that, embracing and cherishing the time we did have together, because that was spectacular and special.  I've also realized that the best way to memorialize him is to keep my body and heart in good shape.  In the weeks after his death, as we made arrangements, flew down to California and laid him to rest, my daughter's plea played in my mind.  "I don't want you to ever get dead."

I started running again.  I started running while I was still in California.  I signed up for a different 10k.  I signed up for a 5k the week before that.  I trained.  I trained hard.  I was not going to get dead.  I was not going to have a weak heart.  I owed it to my daughter; I owed it to myself; and I owed it to my dad.

I completed the 10k, and got a PR that I have yet to break for the 5k I ran the week before.  This year, instead of running the Shamrock 5k, I ran the Shamrock 15k.  That's 9.3 miles.  NINE POINT THREE.  For someone who, a little over a year before, could run for only 3 1/2 minutes at a time, that's quite an accomplishment.

I love to run!
I ran like a mother again this year.  I was faster than I was last year.  More importantly, I didn't wet my pants.  I continued running after I crossed the finish line and didn't stop until I got to the bathroom, but at least I made it there.

I'm not the fastest runner, nor am I the best runner.  But I'm a runner and I'm not dead.

Mother Runners
Today would have been my dad's 70th birthday.  Had the significance of the date of the race occurred to me, I would have signed up for and run the Rock & Roll 1/2 marathon today.  I'm not sure I would have been able to make it the whole 13 miles without breaking down into a pool of emotion, so maybe that's why the date didn't strike me when people were talking about it.  I knew I had to do something physical and special, though.

Because the next race I have coming up is a trail run in Forest Park on July 16th, I decided to sign up for a free training plan on RunKeeper called "Running 4 Fat Loss."  I chose it for three reasons: 1. It's free; 2. It has speed training in it; and 3. My coworker/running buddy is doing it, too.  Today was the first workout of the plan for me.  I had to run 30 minutes at a steady pace - 70% of my max heart rate, or (since I don't have a heart rate monitor) at a pace where I can carry on a conversation.

I checked every so often to make sure I could talk out loud.  I wasn't winded or panting.  I was breathing in my nose, and had to remember to breathe out my mouth.  I felt amazing.  I felt strong.  I felt like I could run this way for a good long while.  Perhaps I could run a half marathon.  Perhaps I should have run that half marathon.

And then it was decided.  I will run a half marathon.  I don't know when I'll do it, or which one I will run, but I will run one.  I may not run one until this time next year, to commemorate my dad, but I will run one within the next calendar year.  And not only will I run a half marathon some time in the next year, I will run a half marathon when I'm 70 years old.  Because dammit, I wish my dad could have done that. (mental note: talk mom into running a half marathon)

My pace for this steady run was about the same pace I ran my first 5k.  During that first 5k, I was winded.  I was tired.  I wasn't quite sure I was going to make it to the finish.  Today, I was sure I could run that fast (or slow, however you want to look at it) for as long as I needed.  My heart is strong.  It is not going to fail me, seize up, or stop.  It will keep beating with love for my children, my husband and myself.  I will keep my promise and do everything in my power to stay alive for my children.  I know first hand how devastating it is to lose a parent. If I can prevent pain and suffering for my children, I will do it.

Today, and every May 18th, I will run.

For my dad.  

For my children.  

For my heart.  

For me. 

Let's hear it for running!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring Break Barf-o-Rama Haikus

Spring Break Staycation
Gardening, zoo, happy kids
Sudden halt with barf.

Puke in the backseat
Cleaning it from the carseat
Vomit on my shoe.

Head over toilet
Waiting for vomit to come.
Surprise! Liquid poop.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Break Staycation

I don't know if people still do Staycations anymore.  I know they were the big thing a few years ago when the economy tanked and nobody had any money to pay their mortgages, much less leave town for even a short time.  I'm always a little bit late on trends.  I just joined Instagram, and I still don't understand the point of Twitter, or why the President and Pope each have a "feed." 

But that doesn't matter.  What does matter is that we can pay our mortgage and we can leave town . . . if we wanted to leave town.  The thing is, I've left town so often since my dad died in August, that I don't want to leave town for a very long time.  If I don't get on a plane for another year, I'll be pleased as punch.  So, Spring Break started this weekend, and I decided that we are going to do fun things at (and around) home.

The weekend was amazing -- blue skies, and temperatures in the mid to upper sixties.  We decided it was the perfect time to work on the garden.  Our condominium complex has a community garden.  P & I do most of the work, and because most of our neighbors are cool and don't take much, we reap most of the benefit.  This year, we created a condo-friendly greenhouse to start a bunch of seeds, and they've really taken off.  Our three dozen cucumber plants are already flowering.  We started hardening them off this week, and hopefully (fingers crossed that spring really has sprung) we'll be able to put them in the ground next weekend.

We cleared some space to plant beans, peas, carrots, radish and cabbage from seed.  E loved helping drag the stick through the dirt to make a line for planting.  It wasn't always perfectly straight, but it won't matter once the beans are weighing down the plant.  L, in stereotypical boy fashion, played in the dirt, threw rocks, and nearly broke a window.  He makes me such a proud mother.

We drove to one of our favorite burger joints for lunch and ate on the patio.  Aside from spending six months hiking a very long trail, professing forever love in front of family and friends, or meeting your child for the very first time, lunch on the patio of a restaurant is one of the greatest feelings ever.  There's just something about the warm rays on your skin, iced tea in hand, and hot food made to order.  It's magical.

The magic didn't end there.  4:10 was tip-off time for the game between the University of Dayton (my alma mater) and Syracuse University.  I wasn't expecting the game to be so intense.  Or close.  Or for Dayton to win, but all of those things happened.  I don't have cable, so I was stuck listening to the game on the Westwood 1 Radio network.  It's very hard to listen to a fast paced basketball game and figure out who has the ball when you haven't paid attention to the sports team in, like, ever.  But there I was, standing in front of my laptop, listening to the streaming radio, jumping up and down like a fool, as Dayton stuck their foot into the glass slipper and danced their way into the Sweet 16.

Sunday began with a 5 mile run and more time in the garden.  I met up with an old friend to watch the Veronica Mars movie at the Living Room theater.  I had my first glass of wine in I don't know how long, and ended up with a stomach- and head-ache by bedtime.  I'm thinking my body isn't a fan of alcohol, but boy did that wine taste amazing.

Today, E insisted that we go to the zoo, so after getting some cabbage seeds into the ground, I packed up the kids for the insanity that is the Oregon Zoo on the one nice day of Spring Break.  We saw two animals -- the elephants and the lions, and then we headed home.  I don't like crowds, and neither do my kids.  But they will be damned if they don't get to see the baby elephant or lion cubs.  We have a membership, so it's no big thing to swing by for a 45 minute visit. 

E suggested we eat dinner al fresco tonight.  It was a bit chilly, since the sun was hiding in the trees, but it's supposed to rain for the rest of the week, so what the hell?  As it turns out, I love eating outside.  Even when I have to cook and serve the food myself.  Maybe it's all the time I spent backpacking, eating, sleeping, living outside.  Maybe it's the fact that I know I don't have to sweep after dinner.  Whatever the reason, I always feel happier and calmer after sharing a meal with anyone outdoors.

It didn't even bother me that my neighbor's son barfed all over the hallway when I informed him that it was almost time for my kids to get ready for bed, so it was time for him to say goodbye.  As if on cue, he projectiled at me.  Juice?  Tomatoes?  Eggs?  I don't know exactly, but I found myself holding a towel under his chin and asking (begging) if he was all done yet, thinking that if I had sent him packing when I decided to set the timer for a one minute warning, his own mother would be doing this, and I would be continuing on my staycation, not realizing the ticking time bomb that was set in our house tonight.

Tomorrow is a new day, and if my children don't wake me up in the middle of the night with vomit all over their beds, we'll probably do something fun, and vomit all over that instead.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Whole30 Clean Eating Wrap-Up

I planned on writing more about the Whole30 diet while I was doing it, but like everything else in my life, that didn't happen as planned.

The first day was easy-peasy, and I was very proud of myself that I didn't have any cravings for anything and was able to turn  my nose up to processed shit food.

Days 2-7 were a completely different story.

I spent those days fantasizing about opening up a gallon sized Goldfish carton and dumping it into my mouth.  I had the worst time keeping my energy up, especially when running.  My mile pace dropped significantly, and I found myself walking a lot on my long runs. I went from a steady 10 mm to 12 + mm.

I had a very hard time figuring out my work out nutrition, but I did learn, quite by accident, that when I eat 16oz of guacamole for lunch, I can run 4 miles at 10:38 per mile.

Because I'm a sugar addict, I chose not to eat fruit for the first week.  My first fruit after the hiatus was a blueberry.  It tasted like candy.  Every fruit since has been just as amazingly delicious.  I never want to eat sugar again.

By the last week, I began to feel amazing.  My running got easier, and I felt stronger.  I felt leaner, even though I don't think I look much different.  I lost 8 pounds, but I don't know where I lost them from.

My last day on the Whole30 was Friday.  We had a potluck at work.  I ate some carrots and cherry tomatoes, then bought a salad at New Seasons.  I sighed heavily at the fact that there were bagels and cream cheese for the potluck, but then I thought "That shit is crap, I don't even want it!"  and I felt better.

Today, I ran a 15k with an 11:38 mm.  This included a pause when my running pal had to stop and go back to the start line to pick up her inhaler that she dropped (about 15 seconds), and the fact that we got stopped by a train (couple minutes).  I pressed pause on runkeeper for that one, and got 10:52 as my pace on there.  Either way, it was less than 12 minutes per mile, and that was my goal.  Also, I didn't walk.  9.3 miles of running (some running was excruciatingly slow, but it was still running).  I didn't feel the need to pull out my applesauce packet for extra energy, either.  My breakfast of eggs (no veggies, which is a Whole30 no-no, but I'm technically not doing Whole30 anymore) was enough.  Afterwards, I got my free beer, and while it was tempting, I did not drink it.  Of course, it was only tempting at first.  After thinking about the fact that there is no nutrition in it what-so-ever, AND it's full of gluten, I had no problems passing it off.

Had it been wine, that would have been a different story alltogether.

I met my family for brunch at my favorite restaurant.  Verde Cocina.  I ordered the Buenos Dias Breakfast - eggs, bacon, bean mash, loads of veggies, and two made-in-house authentic corn tortillas.  Corn is the first non-Whole30 item I decided to add in.  I also had some sugar (from the bacon) and a couple of beans, but mostly it was the corn.  Fucking amazing, but I'm totally fine having it every once in a while, not all the time.  I much prefer (and I'm sure my mother's heart may stop when she reads this because I was THE WORST eater in the world when it came to veggies growing up) the veggies.  Kale, zucchini, carrots, onions.  Sooo delicious.  I'll be bringing the leftovers from my kids' plates to work tomorrow.
When I started the Whole30, I just wanted to do a cleanse and rid my body of processed food gunk.  What I learned on the Whole30 is that I feel better and want to eat better because I feel better.  I'm not ever going to admit that I'm "Paleo" or on a special diet, I'm simply going to say "no thank you" to certain foods because they don't provide sound nutrition and their ingredients are questionable. 

Because if food isn't nourishing, why eat it?  And the blueberries that I gobbled up during our teacher meeting on Friday was 100% more satisfying and nourishing than the chocolate cake everyone else ate.

I would upload my before & after photos, but I'm in my underpants, so I'll keep it clean.  Maybe when I lose another 10 pounds I'll delight you with pictures of my skivvies.

To make up for it, I'm adding in my post-race-beer-tent photo. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014


I'm being haunted.

It's a good thing, though.

Things are reappearing.

We got married eight years ago.  A good friend of ours, who happens to be a documentary film maker, was our videographer.  He made a pretty darn awesome wedding video - one that didn't put our friends to sleep when we showed it, like so many wedding videos.  We loved it.  We loved it so much, we brought it with us all over the country, to show our family and friends.  Somewhere along the way, it was misplaced.  We tore our house apart searching for it.  We ransacked my in-laws' house searching for it.  We dug through my mother's house searching for it.  It was nowhere to be found.  Vanished in thin air -- for over five years.

In June of last year, my husband started the Specific Carbohydrate Diet in an attempt to help out his autoimmune disease.  He lost a lot of weight.  So much weight, that his wedding band fell off his hand on more than one occasion.  One such occasion happened to be while he was walking in a parking lot.  He heard a tinkling sound and noticed something shiny bouncing ahead of him.  It was his ring.  Good thing it was sunny that day.

So, six months ago, he couldn't find his ring.  He thought he may have left it on the windowsill of the kitchen, where he keeps it when he cooks.  Nope.  Then he thought maybe it was on the windowsill of the bathroom, where he keeps it when he takes a shower.  Not there, either.  He checked next to the bed, and the windowsill in the bedroom (because he seems to like to put his ring on windowsills), and he had no luck.  He figured he took it off at work and left it on his desk.  He couldn't find it there, either.  The only other explanation was that it fell off his finger, and this time he didn't hear it tinkling, or see it shimmering

He bought a new one.  In eight years, the price of our particular wedding ring has tripled.  I told him to make an insurance claim.  He never did, because he figured he was an imbecile and it was all his fault.

Last month, my car was broken into.  The glove box was opened, and the broken GPS was taken, along with the broken GPS's power cord.  When I realized that what the thieves took was a crappy piece of electronics that was simply taking up space in my glove box, I laughed.  And then I remembered that E had an MP3 player in the back seat.  I looked in her cupholder.  Gone.  I found her headphones and sighed.  I pulled on the cord with hope.  It was light, and as I came to the end, my fear was realized.  Lizzie's MP3 was gone.  Stolen by middle school thugs who have nothing to do on a Saturday night except wander through a condominium parking lot trying the doors of every car until one opens, and taking the one thing a five year old girl looks forward to during a long car ride.  Fuckheads.  Bastards.  Cum Wads!

It's no secret that 2013 was a terrible year for me.  2014 wasn't looking very rosey, either.

And then one day in the middle of February, I decided to go shopping at Natural Grocers.  They are a little grocery nearby that has organic hippie food.  They also don't put your food into bags, so if you don't bring your own, you have to carry your food out in a cardboard box.  Not wanting to deal with the box of shame, I opened the back of the car, and emptied out the one bag that we had, containing an assortment of tools, twine and rope.  I heard a tinkling.  I saw something sparkly bounce in front of me.  It was a wedding band.  I thought it was mine.  I looked at my finger.  My ring was there.  I looked at the ring in the back of my car.  Could it be?  No...  how could it have gotten here?  I picked it up, and sure enough, it was the missing wedding band.  No. Fucking. Way.

The next week, as I was putting L into his car seat for the five hundred and four millionth time, I noticed there was something black stuck between his car seat and the seat back.  He is still rear-facing, because I'm one of those parents (I should wear a t-shirt that says "Talk to me about extended breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapering and rear-facing car seats!"), so noticing some strange object between the car seat and the seat back shouldn't be that difficult.  This strange object just happened to be in the exact spot where I put my hand to loosen the car seat strap. I loosen the car seat strap every time I get him out of his car seat.  How did I not notice this strange black object before?  I picked it up, and was surprised to realize it was the stolen MP3 player!  For a nanosecond, I actually thought that the thieves felt remorse for what they had done, broke into my car a second time, and stuck the MP3 player in that spot so it would seem like it was just misplaced.

And then, last week, the most insane of all things to ever happen in this house happened.  P had spent half the week in Seattle at a conference.  He was in the bedroom, putting away his suitcase in the closet.  As he was moving an old bag that we haven't used in years, in order to make room for his bag, he heard a strange sound coming from one of the pockets.  He pulled down the bag and opened the pocket.  Inside was a giant ziplock bag.  Inside the giant ziplock bag were four DVD's.  Two were documentaries about the PCT that our friend and videographer made.  One was a video slideshow of photos compiled from a bunch of people who hiked the PCT in 2003.  The last DVD was the one and only copy of Camp Belchigator shenanigans.  It was truly unbelievable.

He didn't tell me right away.  He kept it a secret.  In fact, this was the day we had the big fight.

That night, as I was about to play another episode of Weeds, he said "No, let's watch a movie instead."

"OK.  What movie?" I asked.

"I have one," was his reply as he sauntered toward the bedroom.  He popped it into the computer before I could see what it was.

I thought he'd gotten Squatch to make another copy, since we had just seen him.  Either way, it was so nice to relive those happy moments, especially after our fight.  I only cried once, during the father/daughter dance.

I try not to get ethereal on my blog, or think about other worldly things in general.  I can't explain them, and while I've considered my own mortality and that of my mother, siblings and children fairly regularly since Labor Day, I still can't fathom what happens in the end.  I can only hope.  For the past month, as items that I thought were gone for good find their way back to me, my hope grows -- hope that there is something beyond this life; that my dad, grandmother, grandfather, former pets, teachers, friends, and others who have touched my life have found peace, are happy, and are never very far away.

What once was lost now is found.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Hardest Word

My husband and I got into a fight today.  It’s not unusual.  We’ve been together for over 10 years, and married for over 8.  It’s bound to happen.  It happens every time I’m PMS-ing (which is now), and every time one of us comes back from a trip (also now).

I honestly can’t remember the exact reason we were fighting, and it really doesn’t matter.  It simply matters that we were fighting – yelling and screaming at each other, saying hurtful things, swearing; and we did this in front of our children.  I know E was very upset over this, and asked us to stop.  L simply cried while clinging to my leg.  I remember peeling him off before I dramatically stomped into the bedroom and carefully closed the door so I wouldn’t smush any tiny fingers.  P yelled one more hurtful thing at the closed door before walking away.  I thought 15 hurtful things in my head and cried for a while.  

But while we think and say hurtful things to each other, we really don’t mean it.  We love each other and would go to the ends of the earth for each other.  The trouble is, how do you reassure your children of this, when they have born witness to the slaughter of your feelings?

I’ve heard people say you should never fight in front of the children, and I remember having friends in high school who were blindsided by their parents’ divorce because they never saw it coming.  By the same token, I’ve also heard friends wonder why their parents weren’t divorced, since all they did was fight.  When we got engaged, P told me that we would end up hating each other, but that it would all work out in the end, because that’s what happened to his parents.

My parents divorced when I was one, so I have no idea how parents are supposed to handle stress and disagreement in front of their children.  I knew my parents didn’t like each other from the moment I remember, and the divorce papers were proof.  They did eventually allow time and physical distance move that water under the bridge, and a couple years before my dad passed away, they were cordial with each other (they became Facebook friends, and may have even sent each other letters.  In the mail).

I certainly don’t want my children to think that we hate each other.  At the same time, I don’t want them to think that everything is coming up roses when a family of moles has moved in.  So we fight, scream, yell, say hurtful things in front of our children.  The children do the same thing to each other in front of us.  They probably have some empathy in that regard.  We live in a 950 square foot condo.  There really isn’t much room to escape, especially when the Pacific Northwest Winter is bearing down and your road has become the new off-shoot of the local creek.  

One thing we do, however, that I think is hard to do in front of other people, is that we make up in front of our children.  It could be the fact that we live in a shoebox, so they are subjected to the good, bad and ugly in our marriage.  It could be the fact that we don’t want them to think that we actually hate each other, because we don’t.  We all have bad days.  We all lose it, and we all say things we don’t mean.  We’re human.   Our children should be witness to that.  They should know that everyone, even parents make mistakes.  And what’s more, they should be witness to the make-ups, not just to be reassured that their world will not be falling apart any time soon, but to learn that crucial part of making relationships last:  Saying “I’m Sorry.”